PURPOSE: Fetal brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging suffers from unpredictable and unconstrained fetal motion that causes severe image artifacts even with half-Fourier single-shot fast spin echo (HASTE) readouts. This work presents the implementation of a closed-loop pipeline that automatically detects and reacquires HASTE images that were degraded by fetal motion without any human interaction. METHODS: A convolutional neural network that performs automatic image quality assessment (IQA) was run on an external GPU-equipped computer that was connected to the internal network of the MRI scanner. The modified HASTE pulse sequence sent each image to the external computer, where the IQA convolutional neural network evaluated it, and then the IQA score was sent back to the sequence. At the end of the HASTE stack, the IQA scores from all the slices were sorted, and only slices with the lowest scores (corresponding to the slices with worst image quality) were reacquired. RESULTS: The closed-loop HASTE acquisition framework was tested on 10 pregnant mothers, for a total of 73 acquisitions of our modified HASTE sequence. The IQA convolutional neural network, which was successfully employed by our modified sequence in real time, achieved an accuracy of 85.2% and area under the receiver operator characteristic of 0.899. CONCLUSION: The proposed acquisition/reconstruction pipeline was shown to successfully identify and automatically reacquire only the motion degraded fetal brain HASTE slices in the prescribed stack. This minimizes the overall time spent on HASTE acquisitions by avoiding the need to repeat the entire stack if only few slices in the stack are motion-degraded.
BACKGROUND: Preoperative radiological assessment of meningioma characteristics is of value for pre- and post-operative patient management, counselling, and surgical approach. PURPOSE: To investigate whether tensor-valued diffusion MRI can add to the preoperative prediction of meningioma consistency, grade and type. MATERIALS AND METHODS: 30 patients with intracranial meningiomas (22 WHO grade I, 8 WHO grade II) underwent MRI prior to surgery. Diffusion MRI was performed with linear and spherical b-tensors with b-values up to 2000 s/mm2. The data were used to estimate mean diffusivity (MD), fractional anisotropy (FA), mean kurtosis (MK) and its components-the anisotropic and isotropic kurtoses (MKA and MKI). Meningioma consistency was estimated for 16 patients during resection based on ultrasonic aspiration intensity, ease of resection with instrumentation or suction. Grade and type were determined by histopathological analysis. The relation between consistency, grade and type and dMRI parameters was analyzed inside the tumor ("whole-tumor") and within brain tissue in the immediate periphery outside the tumor ("rim") by histogram analysis. RESULTS: Lower 10th percentiles of MK and MKA in the whole-tumor were associated with firm consistency compared with pooled soft and variable consistency (n = 7 vs 9; U test, p = 0.02 for MKA 10 and p = 0.04 for MK10) and lower 10th percentile of MD with variable against soft and firm (n = 5 vs 11; U test, p = 0.02). Higher standard deviation of MKI in the rim was associated with lower grade (n = 22 vs 8; U test, p = 0.04) and in the MKI maps we observed elevated rim-like structure that could be associated with grade. Higher median MKA and lower median MKI distinguished psammomatous type from other pooled meningioma types (n = 5 vs 25; U test; p = 0.03 for MKA 50 and p = 0.03 and p = 0.04 for MKI 50). CONCLUSION: Parameters from tensor-valued dMRI can facilitate prediction of consistency, grade and type.
PURPOSE: To accelerate the acquisition of relaxation-diffusion imaging by integrating time-division multiplexing (TDM) with simultaneous multi-slice (SMS) for EPI and evaluate imaging quality and diffusion measures. METHODS: The time-division multiplexing (TDM) technique and SMS method were integrated to achieve a high slice-acceleration (e.g., 6×) factor for acquiring relaxation-diffusion MRI. Two variants of the sequence, referred to as TDM3e-SMS and TDM2s-SMS, were developed to simultaneously acquire slice groups with three distinct TEs and two slice groups with the same TE, respectively. Both sequences were evaluated on a 3T scanner with in vivo human brains and compared with standard single-band (SB) -EPI and SMS-EPI using diffusion measures and tractography results. RESULTS: Experimental results showed that the TDM3e-SMS sequence with total slice acceleration of 6 (multiplexing factor (MP) = 3 × multi-band factor (MB) = 2) provided similar image intensity and microstructure measures compared to standard SMS-EPI with MB = 2, and yielded less bias in intensity compared to standard SMS-EPI with MB = 4. The three sequences showed a similar positive correlation between TE and mean kurtosis (MK) and a negative correlation between TE and mean diffusivity (MD) in white matter. Multi-fiber tractography also shows consistency of results in TE-dependent measures between different sequences. The TDM2s-SMS sequence (MP = 2, MB = 2) also provided imaging measures similar to standard SMS-EPI sequences (MB = 2) for single-TE diffusion imaging. CONCLUSIONS: The TDM-SMS sequence can provide additional 2x to 3x acceleration to SMS without degrading imaging quality. With the significant reduction in scan time, TDM-SMS makes joint relaxation-diffusion MRI a feasible technique in neuroimaging research to investigate new markers of brain disorders.
Diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI) tractography is an advanced imaging technique that enables in vivo reconstruction of the brain’s white matter connections at macro scale. It provides an important tool for quantitative mapping of the brain’s structural connectivity using measures of connectivity or tissue microstructure. Over the last two decades, the study of brain connectivity using dMRI tractography has played a prominent role in the neuroimaging research landscape. In this paper, we provide a high-level overview of how tractography is used to enable quantitative analysis of the brain’s structural connectivity in health and disease. We focus on two types of quantitative analyses of tractography, including: 1) tract-specific analysis that refers to research that is typically hypothesis-driven and studies particular anatomical fiber tracts, and 2) connectome-based analysis that refers to research that is more data-driven and generally studies the structural connectivity of the entire brain. We first provide a review of methodology involved in three main processing steps that are common across most approaches for quantitative analysis of tractography, including methods for tractography correction, segmentation and quantification. For each step, we aim to describe methodological choices, their popularity, and potential pros and cons. We then review studies that have used quantitative tractography approaches to study the brain’s white matter, focusing on applications in neurodevelopment, aging, neurological disorders, mental disorders, and neurosurgery. We conclude that, while there have been considerable advancements in methodological technologies and breadth of applications, there nevertheless remains no consensus about the "best" methodology in quantitative analysis of tractography, and researchers should remain cautious when interpreting results in research and clinical applications.
We present a volumetric mesh-based algorithm for parameterizing the placenta to a flattened template to enable effective visualization of local anatomy and function. MRI shows potential as a research tool as it provides signals directly related to placental function. However, due to the curved and highly variable in vivo shape of the placenta, interpreting and visualizing these images is difficult. We address interpretation challenges by mapping the placenta so that it resembles the familiar ex vivo shape. We formulate the parameterization as an optimization problem for mapping the placental shape represented by a volumetric mesh to a flattened template. We employ the symmetric Dirichlet energy to control local distortion throughout the volume. Local injectivity in the mapping is enforced by a constrained line search during the gradient descent optimization. We validate our method using a research study of 111 placental shapes extracted from BOLD MRI images. Our mapping achieves sub-voxel accuracy in matching the template while maintaining low distortion throughout the volume. We demonstrate how the resulting flattening of the placenta improves visualization of anatomy and function. Our code is freely available at https://github.com/mabulnaga/placenta-flattening.
Matrix metalloproteinases 9 (MMP9) are enzymes involved in regulating neuroplasticity in the hippocampus. This, combined with evidence for disrupted hippocampal structure and function in schizophrenia, has prompted our current investigation into the relationship between MMP9 and hippocampal volumes in schizophrenia. 34 healthy individuals (mean age = 32.50, male = 21, female = 13) and 30 subjects with schizophrenia (mean age = 33.07, male = 19, female = 11) underwent a blood draw and T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging. The hippocampus was automatically segmented utilizing FreeSurfer. MMP9 plasma levels were measured with ELISA. ANCOVAs were conducted to compare MMP9 plasma levels (corrected for age and sex) and hippocampal volumes between groups (corrected for age, sex, total intracranial volume). Spearman correlations were utilized to investigate the relationship between symptoms, medication, duration of illness, number of episodes, and MMP9 plasma levels in patients. Last, we explored the correlation between MMP9 levels and hippocampal volumes in patients and healthy individuals separately. Patients displayed higher MMP9 plasma levels than healthy individuals (F(1, 60) = 21.19, p < 0.0001). MMP9 levels correlated with negative symptoms in patients (R = 0.39, p = 0.035), but not with medication, duration of illness, or the number of episodes. Further, patients had smaller left (F(1,59) = 9.12, p = 0.0040) and right (F(1,59) = 6.49, p = 0.013) hippocampal volumes. Finally, left (R = -0.39, p = 0.034) and right (R = -0.37, p = 0.046) hippocampal volumes correlated negatively with MMP9 plasma levels in patients. We observe higher MMP9 plasma levels in SCZ, associated with lower hippocampal volumes, suggesting involvement of MMP9 in the pathology of SCZ. Future studies are needed to investigate how MMP9 influences the pathology of SCZ over the lifespan, whether the observed associations are specific for schizophrenia, and if a therapeutic modulation of MMP9 promotes neuroprotective effects in SCZ.
We propose a novel pairwise distance measure between image keypoint sets, for the purpose of large-scale medical image indexing. Our measure generalizes the Jaccard index to account for soft set equivalence (SSE) between keypoint elements, via an adaptive kernel framework modeling uncertainty in keypoint appearance and geometry. A new kernel is proposed to quantify the variability of keypoint geometry in location and scale. Our distance measure may be estimated between O (N 2) image pairs in [Formula: see text] operations via keypoint indexing. Experiments report the first results for the task of predicting family relationships from medical images, using 1010 T1-weighted MRI brain volumes of 434 families including monozygotic and dizygotic twins, siblings and half-siblings sharing 100%-25% of their polymorphic genes. Soft set equivalence and the keypoint geometry kernel improve upon standard hard set equivalence (HSE) and appearance kernels alone in predicting family relationships. Monozygotic twin identification is near 100%, and three subjects with uncertain genotyping are automatically paired with their self-reported families, the first reported practical application of image-based family identification. Our distance measure can also be used to predict group categories, sex is predicted with an AUC = 0.97. Software is provided for efficient fine-grained curation of large, generic image datasets.
Training deep learning models that segment an image in one step typically requires a large collection of manually annotated images that captures the anatomical variability in a cohort. This poses challenges when anatomical variability is extreme but training data is limited, as when segmenting cardiac structures in patients with congenital heart disease (CHD). In this paper, we propose an iterative segmentation model and show that it can be accurately learned from a small dataset. Implemented as a recurrent neural network, the model evolves a segmentation over multiple steps, from a single user click until reaching an automatically determined stopping point. We develop a novel loss function that evaluates the entire sequence of output segmentations, and use it to learn model parameters. Segmentations evolve predictably according to growth dynamics encapsulated by training data, which consists of images, partially completed segmentations, and the recommended next step. The user can easily refine the final segmentation by examining those that are earlier or later in the output sequence. Using a dataset of 3D cardiac MR scans from patients with a wide range of CHD types, we show that our iterative model offers better generalization to patients with the most severe heart malformations.
Measuring and understanding functional fetal brain development in utero is critical for the study of the developmental foundations of our cognitive abilities, possible early detection of disorders, and their prevention. Thalamocortical connections are an intricate component of shaping the cortical layout, but so far, only ex-vivo studies provide evidence of how axons enter the sub-plate and cortex during this highly dynamic phase. Evidence for normal in-utero development of the functional thalamocortical connectome in humans is missing. Here, we modeled fetal functional thalamocortical connectome development using in-utero functional magnetic resonance imaging in fetuses observed from 19th to 40th weeks of gestation (GW). We observed a peak increase of thalamocortical functional connectivity strength between 29th and 31st GW, right before axons establish synapses in the cortex. The cortico-cortical connectivity increases in a similar time window, and exhibits significant functional laterality in temporal-superior, -medial, and -inferior areas. Homologous regions exhibit overall similar mirrored connectivity profiles, but this similarity decreases during gestation giving way to a more diverse cortical interconnectedness. Our results complement the understanding of structural development of the human connectome and may serve as the basis for the investigation of disease and deviations from a normal developmental trajectory of connectivity development.